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GST Officials Cannot Use Physical Violence During Search, Investigation Or Interrogation: Telangana High Court [Read Order]

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
8 Nov 2020 1:49 PM GMT
GST Officials Cannot Use Physical Violence During Search, Investigation Or Interrogation: Telangana High Court [Read Order]
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The Telangana High Court has observed that the officials belonging to the GST Intelligence Department cannot resort to physical violence while against persons they suspect of being guilty of tax evasion.The bench comprising Justices MS Ramachandra Rao and T. Amarnath Goud was considering a writ petition filed by director of a company and his relative alleging that the officials while...

The Telangana High Court has observed that the officials belonging to the GST Intelligence Department cannot resort to physical violence while against persons they suspect of being guilty of tax evasion.

The bench comprising Justices MS Ramachandra Rao and T. Amarnath Goud was considering a writ petition filed by director of a company and his relative alleging that the officials while conducting raid physically assaulted them. The department denied these allegations and submitted before the court that it was the petitioners and their employees who had obstructed the search operations and allegedly assaulted the 

Referring to Out patient Discharge advice of Hospital given after treatment of one of the petitioners, the court noted that he was injured to such a degree that he was unable to walk and required medical treatment. The court observed that the officials cannot claim any liberty to torture or use physical violence during the course of search, investigation or interrogation under the CGST Act, 2017 against persons suspected of tax evasion like the petitioners or their employees. It said:

No provision of any law is cited before us by the respondents to say that they are entitled to use physical violence against persons they suspect of being guilty of tax evasion while discharging their duties under the CGST Act, 2017.. Merely because the authorities under the CGST Act, 2017 are not to be treated as police officials, they cannot claim any immunity if they indulge in acts of physical violence against persons they suspect of being guilty of tax evasion.  After India adopted the Constitution of India, protection against torture by State actors has been recognized as part of right to life and liberty guaranteed by Art.21 of the Constitution of India.

The court said that the possibility of the use of violence by officials against the petitioners and the other employees  cannot be entirely ruled out. The bench therefore issued some directions and also said that the petitioners and their employees shall be examined in the visible range of their counsel, though not in hearing range.

Case: M/S. Agarwal Foundries Private Ltd. vs Union Of India [Writ Petition No.28268 of 2019]
Coram: Justices MS Ramachandra Rao and T. Amarnath Goud 

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